Crown land reforms tabled in Parliament today are a genuine first step in ensuring that public land is properly managed for the public benefit, but there are serious questions raised by the legislation that proposes large transfers of land to local councils without clear statutory protections.

Under the Baird Government’s proposed legislation a large portion of the Crown land estate could be transferred to local councils. However the Bill set outs no clear statutory criteria to assess which land may be transferred to local councils

The Greens will be closely scrutinising the 208 page bill before it is brought on for debate when Parliament resumes in November and seeking additional protections for our precious public land.

Greens MP and Crown Land Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:

“Crown land holds some of the most important environmental assets in the State these reforms are a genuine start at ensuring it is properly managed and protected.

“Our initial concerns with this legislation are that it does not provide clear statutory criteria to determine which land can be transferred to local councils

“Despite being more than 200 pages long, the Bill has no statutory criteria, enforceable protections or appeal mechanisms for Crown Land that will be transferred to local councils.

“The Government says that they want to increase community consultation, and this is a good thing, but this needs to be backed up with enforceable conditions to ensure that community consultation is genuine and meaningful.

“Travelling stock routes and other public land with essential social and environmental values do not appear to be given adequate protection in this Bill. These are matters that need to be clarified through further debate or amendments.

“Amendments are needed to require environment assessment of land before it is sold to avoid the loss of large swathes of critical habitat and ecologically sensitive land.

“While there are real concerns raised by our initial review of this Bill, that does not take away from the fact that it’s a large advance from the Crown Land white paper.

“We will be looking at this bill closely and seeking additional protections for our precious public land when Parliament resumes in November.” Mr Shoebridge said.

The Crown Land Management Bill is available on Parliament’s website here.